Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Slate

September 28, 2012

Slate: Why we want presidents like LBJ

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Romney is probably misjudging his political moment in a different way. Romney has promised that upon taking office he will repeal Obamacare, replace it with his own version, transform Medicare from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, and reduce the budget by $500 billion. Before he does that, he must reallocate the $1 trillion in deficit reduction that is scheduled to take place across the board as a result of the failed 2011 debt limit talks and make good on his promise to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

That's a heavy load. Even if Republicans miraculously control both houses of Congress, the majorities will be slim. Romney won't have anything approaching a clear mandate to make those sweeping changes. In this reality, one of several things might happen: He'll only get some of what he wants, his attempt to avoid the fiscal cliff while retaining ideological commitments on spending reductions and tax cuts will end in disaster, or a crisis atmosphere — surrounding a possible downgrade of the U.S. credit rating or a collapse in the bond market — will push through legislation that no one really understands. At best, Romney will be able to include some pet projects in the hurly burly just as Obama did with his 2009 stimulus bill.

Romney's skill at quickly analyzing complex systems, plotting corrective action, and implementing a plan gives him skills no other president has had coming in to office. But, as Rick Santorum, R-Pa., pointed out in the primaries, his experience as a businessman will be of limited use. "The experience Gov. Romney keeps touting out there is not the experience you need to be president," he said. "A CEO directs people to do what the CEO thinks is right to do, and those people work in his chain of command. Senators and congressmen don't work for the president. You've got to work with people, not order people."

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